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POLICY | 05 March 2021

EU rules to reduce cost of high-speed broadband deployment

To make high-speed broadband quickly available, the EU established a set of harmonised measures to lower the cost of rolling out broadband, through the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive.

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For companies deploying networks, access to existing physical infrastructure can allow significant savings, up to 60% in some cases, as compared to excavating afresh. owners of existing infrastructure are also expected to benefit, for instance energy utilities exploiting synergies with smart grids deployment. Access to passive infrastructure enhances efficiencies, minimizes the costs and accelerates the deployment of telecommunication infrastructure.

The Directive on measures to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks allow making use of all relevant and available physical infrastructure for the roll-out of high-speed electronic communication networks.

According to the Directive, network operators (electronic communication, energy utilities, etc.) are to give access to their physical infrastructure (e.g. ducts, manholes, cabinets, poles) to operators intending to roll out high-speed broadband networks under fair and reasonable terms and conditions.

In order to facilitate access to existing physical infrastructure in a transparent way, public communications network providers have the right to access minimum information, upon request, regarding:

  • location and route,
  • type and current use of the infrastructure, and
  • a contact point.

Member States may allow access to minimum information on existing infrastructure to be limited only if necessary in view of the security of the networks and their integrity, national security, public health or safety, confidentiality or operating and business secrets.

Infrastructure inside buildings

Installing physical infrastructure that enables high-speed internet access is more cost-effective and less disturbing for residents, if done at the time of construction or implementation of major renovation. If the buildings are equipped with the necessary infrastructure, companies can install cables or other active equipment quicker and at significantly lower costs, allowing them to offer their services faster and to more citizens.

The Directive ensures high-speed-ready, accessible in-building physical infrastructure in all newly constructed and majorly renovated buildings.

To achieve this objective, the buildings for which permits are submitted after 31 December 2016 must be equipped with:

  • physical infrastructure, such as mini-ducts capable of hosting high-speed networks, and
  • an easily accessible access point for the providers of public communications networks who wish to terminate their networks at the premises of the subscriber.

Such buildings shall be eligible to receive the voluntary “broadband-ready” label in Member States where this is available.

Moreover, without prejudice to property rights, every provider of public communications networks shall have the right to access any in-building physical infrastructure under fair and non-discriminatory terms and conditions, if duplication is technically impossible or economically inefficient.

For buildings not equipped with high-speed-ready in-building infrastructure, every public communication network provider can terminate its network at the premises of the subscriber subject to the subscriber's agreement and provided that it minimises the impact on the property of third parties.

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